Origins News Round-up for January 3, 2014
Today’s origins news roundup features an end-of-year look at some of 2013’s major science highlights, a brief glimpse at what to watch for in the new year, and a few great science and faith resources from the past few weeks.
Series: Saturday Science Links (15 entries)
The biggest science stories of the week are reviewed.
Series: “Origins” Book Club (6 entries)
The Christian Reformed Church votes to support scholarship on human origins
We should celebrate the many times that our churches and colleges encourage scholarship. I saw several delegates at Synod stand up and speak directly about the importance of supporting scholars who engage the science and religion dialogue. The recent Synod decision was a move in the right direction.
What Americans Think and Feel about Evolution
The new Gallup survey shows in broad strokes the challenge we face. But more nuanced surveys find that only 8% of Americans are convinced creationists whose beliefs are dear to them, and only 4% are convinced atheistic evolutionists whose beliefs are dear to them. The vast majority of Americans are not sure of their position and are open to a conversation.
Series: What I Wish My Pastor Knew About... The Life of a Scientist (5 entries)
Andy Crouch examines the life of a scientist based on his experience of walking alongside his wife Catherine, an experimental physicist. That relationship has shown him that a life in science is a journey “into a set of virtues,” of cultivating a specific character suited to the particular demands of research and investigation. Crouch's hope is to persuade pastors and others in the church to prayerfully support the scientific endeavor as a reflection of God’s image in humankind as well as offers some suggestions for ministering to their needs.
Humanity as and in Creation
Christian theology asserts that humans are spiritual creatures, a unity of body and spirit or “soul,” integrated, not reducible downwards to mere matter or upwards to mere spirit.
Awe in Science
If we can understand the experiences of the people who work every day in the lab, our dialogues concerning science and religion will be far more fruitful.
Katharine Hayhoe: Evangelical Christian, Climate Scientist
As an Evangelical and a scientist, Katharine Hayhoe is already a member of a rare breed. As a climate change researcher who is also married to an evangelical Christian pastor, she is nearly one of a kind.
Being Human (Infographic)
The BioLogos Forum is pleased to present this infographic about the current anthropological understanding of human evolution, which takes into account research into both physiological and cultural developments among our ancient ancestors.
Hominids Lived Millions of Years Ago, but How Can We Tell? (Videocast)
This BioLogos videocast addresses the age of recently discovered hominid fossils and how scientists are able to obtain those dates.
What scientific evidence do we have about the first humans?
In recent decades, scientists have discovered more about the beginnings of humanity. The fossil record shows a gradual transition over 5 million years ago from chimpanzee-size creatures to hominids with larger brains who walked on two legs. Later hominids used fire and stone tools and had brains as large as modern humans. Fossils of homo sapiens in east Africa date back nearly 200,000 years. Humans developed hearths for fire, stone points for spears and arrows, and cave paintings by 30,000 years ago. By 10,000 years ago, humans had spread throughout the globe. Genetic studies support the same picture. Humans share more DNA with chimpanzees than with any other animal, suggesting that humans and chimps share a relatively recent common ancestor. Also, the same defective genes appear in both humans and chimps, at the same locations in the genome—an observation difficult to explain except by common ancestry. Genetics also tells us that the human population today descended from more than two people. Evolution happens not to individuals but to populations, and the amount of genetic diversity in the gene pool today suggests that the human population was never smaller than several thousand individuals. Yet all humans, of all races, are descended from this group. Humanity is one family.
The Beauty of Being a Scientist and a Christian
I am a Christian. I believe that God is the ultimate reality and that the world, including me, was created by God. But this is not just an idle affirmation, a faith statement to be recited in church on Sunday.
Many people use the words "dominion" and "subdue" as "unconditional permission to use the world as they please." I came to realize, like many, that such an interpretation is contradicted by the rest of the Bible.
Series: Science as an Instrument of Worship (6 entries)
In this brief series (taken from a 2009 paper), Jennifer Wiseman uses an excerpt from the famous hymn “How Great Thou Art,” to explain why the study of God’s creation can lead Christ’s followers into meaningful worship and overcome the obstacles which impede true praise. Creation as encountered through our senses is pondered by our minds, which flows into wonder-filled songs from the soul. She further explains how knowledge of creation will help Christians to address the moral dilemmas of science, and she encourages all to see the process of scientific inquiry as a means to discover God’s truth.
How does original sin fit with evolutionary history?
Original sin often refers simply to the current state of humanity, in that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Evolution does not raise questions about our current state of sinfulness. It does, however, raise questions about how and when the first sin occurred, and how this fallen state was transmitted to all people. The sciences of evolution and archaeology can provide some insight into these questions but are not equipped to answer them. These questions are theological, and over the centuries the church has considered many possible answers. Some of these options are consistent with the scientific evidence currently available.
Dead Bones with a Living Message
In this video, Pääbo covers a lot of ground, noting several lines of genetic evidence for the evolution of modern humans from earlier hominids in Africa, as well as for the interbreeding between early humans and Neanderthals.
Series: Understanding Evolution (4 entries)
This blog series by Dennis Venema undertakes the task of clarifying numerous aspects of evolution that often become misconstrued by Christians. He first discusses the idea of speciation in a population over time, later applying it to the speciation process that occurred among hominids (human ancestors) which led to modern humans. He continues to support this idea by exploring so called “Mitochondrial Eve,”“Y Chromosome Adam” and other compositional clues of the human genome.
Was Humanity Inevitable?
If the tape was rewound and evolution started over from scratch, Conway Morris says, the evolutionary details would be different, but the end result would be similar: a species characterized by intelligence and complex civilization.